Today's Internet age means that information is more readily accessible than ever before. Between search engines and the all-pervasive Wikipedia, it seems all you have to do is type in a few words and the information you seek will appear at your fingertips. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case; although you can get factual information online, it does take a little elbow grease to get there.
Primary Resources vs. Secondary ResourcesFor any type of real research, you want to access primary resources. These are research studies, documents, speeches, government reports, or even emails from witness accounts. They are pieces of information that come directly from the source.
In most cases, secondary resources will also work for researching purposes. These are any types of documents that directly report on a primary resource. They are history books, encyclopedias, literary analyses, or textbooks.
Things that you find online, like blogs, article warehouses, and Wikipedia are neither primary nor secondary. They tend to be steeped in opinion and may or may not have ties to a valid resource of any kind.
Where to Find the Right ResourcesFortunately, there are places to go online if you need to find some facts and figures for your next report:
Although some of these resources do require an annual fee for use, you might be able to check with them to find discounted rates for nonprofits. In the end, it's much better to be certain you're using valid and current information even if it does take a little extra digging!